Get to Know Sylo [Interview]

Ian Hansen

Sylo’s sound is intimate, and he doesn’t try too hard to fit in a lane that is “popular.” The alt-R&B phenom makes music that is for the soul and will surely put you in a better mood. His recent bodies of works are perfect examples of this such as “Millions” and “Spacing Out.” He has more great music on the way. Get to know Sylo below:

To start things off, your first single of the year, “Millions,” sounds incredible. What was the creative direction of the song?

It was a new direction and new sound for me. From a direction point of view, everything feels hopeful because it’s as if we are coming out of COVID, and things are coming back to normal. Everything is open now, and it feels normal. I started renting out a studio, and I’m building that. As far as the track, I always loved juxtaposing different tracks instrumentally because what I tend to write vocally and melodically, tend to always center around more of an R&B, and alternative R&B sound. With the song, I wrote it, and I was really inspired that day. It was sunny, and we were on the lake. Everything felt right. That whole experience helped me forget the world and everything else going on at the time. It was our last day there, and I wanted to give it my all. I wanted to write about new beginnings. It started about what if I had no limits in my imagination, and what if I was able to live life as crazy as I wanted to. That was the idea. If I could have anything in the world, what would that feel like? The new project will have a lot of alternative sounds and will be a new direction instrumentally. Sonically, it will feel fresh and exciting. I feel like I don’t have much to lose as far as taking risks so why not go for it? 

You said things are opening up, and now you’re going on tour? How excited are you to hit the road? Does it change how you make music at all?

That’s the funny thing. My sound overall, when you look at my body of work, it’s more chill and a cozier vibe. At the time when I was making music, I thought COVID was never going to end, and I was in my own bubble. There are two sides to me. There is part of me that loves being in a cocoon and a studio rat staying inside playing with sounds all day. The other part of me loves going out there and being the artist and this unhinged version of myself. I’m always kind of unhinged, but it helps me find that part of myself again. To me, unhinged coincides with me being free and childlike and being on stage and going wild for an hour. I’m excited. I’ve been practicing and getting my chops up. Being a recording artist and a performing artist feels like a long distance runner compared to a short distance runner. 

Being from Canada, how did that maybe influence your sound, and what were your music influences growing up in Canada?

I was born and raised in Toronto. A lot of the culture from the U.S. like New York has bled into Toronto. I have a sister who is almost 10 years older than me. Growing up, I was listening to her music, and she was playing the Golden Era of hip hop. Once the world opened up to me in middle school where I listened to absolutely everything, that is when I started coming into my own. When I came out with my own projects, I couldn’t help but go backwards to the R&B and soulful route combined with the sounds I wanted to get out with my obsession with indie rock and even screamo. 

Listening to all of these artists and genres growing up, how do you think that molded you into who you are as a person?

Culture, music, and art definitely inspires and molds a person, so that was all I was exposed to. Being around musicians and music all of the time, but also having a higher sense of purpose behind that, like I don’t consider myself religious in a sense but very spiritual. Music always feels like it’s coming from a higher place. 

When did you know you were going to do it for a living?

I always knew since I was like 15. I’d say 15 was the year for me. I grew up playing a lot of sports too. I loved being athletic in many ways. I was never really good at one thing. I do have an affinity for fitness. I try to run three miles every couple of days. I always thought maybe I could be a personal trainer. Being 15, a musician sounded more exciting.

What advice would you give to your 15-year-old self with what you know now?

I’d say to put as many hours as you can now because, knowing my younger self, I was very short term pleasure oriented. I was very lazy. I knew I had a natural gift and talent for music. I had this ignorant confidence and cockiness that it would work out. I never knew the value of putting your time in and sharpening your skills. It didn’t come into play until I devoted my time into meditating and testing the limits of my mind and what makes me comfortable. Always exploring deeply. That’s the advice I would give. Start early in terms of exploring yourself and your limits. In the end, what you fear and what you don’t want to face, the sooner you do it, the better. It’ll turn out in the end.

What can fans expect from you this year, and what goals do you have in five years?

I’m really happy where I am, and I guess I want elevated levels of what I’m experiencing, but it used to always be a separate thing before when I was like, ‘OK, I’m here.’ There is that version of me, which feels like a different world where I felt one day it would all just happen, and I would be there. No, you have to become the person you want to become, and that is the first step before anything else. I want to do this bigger and better. Whatever I’m feeling, feel it deeper. Where do I see myself? Doing shows, living life, traveling, and continuing to explore within. I want to be better at what I do.

How has your music evolved through your career?

It’s more purposeful. I never really knew what I wanted to write and what I wanted to talk about. I never really knew what I wanted to write and what I wanted to talk about when I was in that place I was talking about where it comes from a higher place. I used to only feel that through the melodies and chords and the beat. I never really thought about the lyrics. That is another dimension that has opened up the past couple of years. I have learned to appreciate that more listening to music and creating music. When it comes to lyrics now, it feels like there is more of a message to be formulated and shared. Learning how to put things into words is something I used to have trouble doing. Being a verbal communicator hasn’t always been my strong suit. It was something I neglected as a kid, but now, I am definitely coming into my own. I think that is what is evolving for me. As a writer, I have been writing with more purpose. I guess that is the territory of being more comfortable in my own skin. I’m more comfortable with vulnerability.

Final question, what is the message you want your fans to grasp from your music?

I want to be a positive force in the world. Whoever my music reaches, I always do hope to inspire and uplift even if the song is sad. I just want to have that relatability so we can connect as a human and for them to take it as their own. Once it leaves my studio, I want it to be experienced how I experienced my favorite artists and music which was so personal. It’s a personal experience. I want people to have their own cathartic moments. We are all creative. We all interpret art in our own way. I know when we listen to something touching, it becomes our own piece of art. That’s what makes it so intrinsically beautiful and whole. It’s not about what I want to do to them or affect them. It’s about how I can elevate their experience as a human being and give them something that is no longer mine. They can take it however they want.

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